Some good news about omicron, we remember Harry Reid and John Madden: 5 Things podcast – USA TODAY

On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Some good news about omicron

Patient safety reporter Karen Weintraub has the latest. Plus, flu season is back after a light year, former Sen. Harry Reid has died, wellness reporter Jenna Ryu talks about the word ‘simp’ and we remember John Madden.

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Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

Taylor Wilson:

Good morning, I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Wednesday the 29th of December 2021. Today, some good news on omicron. Plus remembering Senator Harry Reid and more.

Here are some of the top headlines:

  1. Severe weather is in the forecast today across the deep South. High winds, rain, hail and possible tornadoes are expected across the region as unseasonably warm temperatures continue.
  2. China is calling on the US to protect a Chinese space station and its three member crew after satellites launched by SpaceX nearly struck the station according to Beijing. A foreign ministry spokesman accused Washington of ignoring obligations under a 1967 treaty on the peaceful use of space.
  3. And the Powerball jackpot has grown to $441 million. The next drawing is set for tonight.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has now been going on for about two years. More than 5.4 million people have died from the virus around the world and the death toll in the US alone is well passed 800,000. For the second consecutive holiday season, many are in isolation after positive test results and it’s hard to see any kind of obvious end in sight. So you might be forgiven for getting a little pessimistic about the health crisis, but even as the omicron variant continues to surge around the country and the world, Patient Safety Reporter Karen Weintraub finally has some good news.

Karen Weintraub:

So one of the things that seems to be different is that it seems to strike people faster. Where it took five plus days to get symptoms after you’re infected with the original variant and four days with delta, we’re now seeing people get sick at two or three days after being exposed. There’s a shorter duration there between exposure and symptoms.

All we have so far really are anecdotal reports, but what we’re hearing is people who have three shots are getting a sore throat, maybe achiness and tiredness and then it’s going away after a couple of days. People with two shots are in worse shape, more sore throat, a little bit of a fever, it lasts a little longer. People with one shot, even worse, really not feeling well at all. But the only people who really require hospitalization are those who have compromised immune systems or who have not gotten any vaccine at all and those people seem to be really affected the most. The people who have weak immune systems aren’t getting protection from the vaccine and obviously the unvaccinated are not either.

The one other thing I would add is we don’t know how much protection previous infection provides. We know people can get sick with COVID a second time, especially with omicron, but we don’t know if their symptoms … Presumably they’ll have fewer symptoms if they were sick once before, but we don’t know that for sure.

It seems to burn through fairly quickly. In South Africa, which is where we first heard about it in large numbers, it’s already coming down. It’s down 36% since last week. It took about a month to peak and then start to come down. So hopefully that means New York and the Northeast are already more than halfway through their raging outbreak. But it does probably mean that the rest of the country is yet to come to see maybe a month long outbreak from omicron in other places.

The one thing experts keep repeating is that the way to protect yourself is with layers. Vaccine is one layer, wearing a mask is another layer, getting tested before you go into a group of people would be a third. There’s no guarantee, but having those three things in place really does reduce your risk of infection with any of the variants.

Taylor Wilson:

For more on omicron, stay with our live COVID updates page on USATODAY.com.

This year’s US flu season has begun. Last year’s 2020 to 2021 flu season was the lowest in decades, as many people stayed home amid the coronavirus pandemic. Some major cities even saw zero cases of influenza. Health experts say measures like school closures, physical distancing, masks and canceled travel led to less flu spread. But a year later, infections are back at a much stronger rate and two child deaths have already been reported, while only one died all of last year’s flu season. Two years ago, 199 children died from the flu and 144 the year before that. In recent years, the flu has typically been blamed for about 50 to 60,000 deaths in all each season. The CDC’s Lynnette Brammer tracks flu-like illnesses and said she expects this to be much more normal of a flu season.

Recent data shows the greater Washington DC area currently with the most intense flu activity. Other states with high flu activity include New Jersey, New Mexico, Kansas and Georgia. Health leaders continue to stress the importance of getting a flu shot on top of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Former Senator Harry Reid has died. He served Nevada as a US senator from 1987 until 2017. The lawmaker was full of contradictions. He was a pro-gun and pro-life Democrat and a devout Mormon who later in life endorsed same sex marriage. And he called himself, quote, “Kind of a strange guy,” unquote.

Reid had an interest in mysterious space phenomena, and he even funded a shadowy defense department program to study unidentified flying objects. In the Senate, Reid chaired the Senate Democratic Caucus and was later Senate majority leader during President Barack Obama’s time in office. In that role, he often acted as Obama’s enforcer, like when he helped push for votes to pass the Affordable Care Act in 2010. He later scrapped the Senate filibuster for judicial appointments in 2013. That move cleared a path to confirm more than a hundred Obama era judges, but it also lowered the bar for approving much more conservative ones later picked by President Donald Trump. In the 2012 presidential election, he also came under fire for falsely accusing Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney of failing to pay taxes for a decade.

Reid was born into poverty at the end of the 1930s in Southern Nevada. Until high school, he lived in a small shack with no hot water, no toilet and no telephone. He later was an amateur boxer and eventually worked his way through law school as a US Capitol police officer. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2018. Harry Reid was 82 years old.

Well, many of us have probably heard the jokes about husbands who are whipped or phrases like nice guys finish last, but those so-called nice guys now have a new insult to contend with, the controversial slang term, simp. Wellness reporter, Jenna Ryu, though, says the world is problematic.

Jenna Ryu:

Simp is a slang term that’s been around for a while, but it’s become popularized recently on TikTok again, and it’s originally meant to mock men who pander to women in an effort to sleep with them. For example, if someone buys a woman gifts for the sole purpose of sex, or if he uses excessive and desperate flattery to a woman who is clearly disinterested or doesn’t deserve that attention. But nowadays, it’s evolved and simp has been overused and generalized to refer to anyone who treats a woman with kindness and respect. For example, if he compliments her, he can be called a simp. If he buys a woman a late night cab home without going with her, he’s a simp, or even if he buys his own girlfriend flowers or chooses to stay in with his girlfriend instead of going out with his male friends, he’s considered a simp. That’s how the term has evolved.

Most people probably are not using the term to be malicious, but experts say a problem with overusing this usage of the term simp is that it normalizes traditional masculinity or that stereotype that, quote unquote, real men have to be aggressive, controlling, stoic rather than sensitive, vulnerable, expressive. That can be damaging obviously to women because it creates toxic and harmful relationships, but also to men because they will often feel like they can’t express their emotions or be themselves without experiencing ridicule or shame. As a result, they bottle up their emotions, which obviously is not good for anyone’s mental health.

Taylor Wilson:

Check out Jenna’s full story with a link in today’s episode description.

John Madden has died. The Pro Football Hall of Fame coach and Broadcasting legend became a running commentary for football fans every fall weekend for nearly 30 years.

John Madden:

Look at the determination, he reads run the whole way. He reads Humphrey the whole way. He takes off for the jump before Humphrey takes off for his jump. That is football. I don’t believe that. The official didn’t signal-

Pat Summerall:

He didn’t signal.

John Madden:

… the two minute warning until after the ball was…

Pat Summerall

… again and it’s still a foot in play. He didn’t get it again.

John Madden:

Didn’t get it again. That’s unbelievable. This is unbelievable. What in the heck is going on?

Taylor Wilson:

And his commentary was not all about what happened on field.

John Madden:

What happens is sometimes turkeys are getting so big in here, so that they have so much in that part of the meat, that they were breaking their legs. And they only had four legs and the four legs couldn’t hold it. Any turkey that gets this big needs eight legs.

Pat Summerall:

We’ve got a turducken, right?

John Madden:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. This is a turducken right here. There’s a third bucket this week. I think what happened, there’s always been a mother and father. Like this is the father bucket, this is a mother bucket and since the last game, they had a baby bucket.

Taylor Wilson:

More recently, he may have been best known for the popular football video games that have his name, but Madden was perhaps most proud of his coaching career. It spanned decades and culminated with a Super Bowl win as head coach of the Oakland Raiders after the 1976 season. After his election to the hall of fame, Madden said, “People always ask, ‘Are you a coach or a broadcaster or a video game guy?’ I’m a coach, always been a coach.”

Above all, John Madden was known as a true lover of the sport of football. NFL commissioner, roger Goodell wrote in a statement, “Nobody loved football more than coach. He was football.” John Madden was 85 years old.

Thanks for listening to 5 Things. You can find us seven mornings a week, year round, wherever you like to find your podcast. Thanks as always to PJ Elliot for his great work on the show. And I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.